Monday, September 19, 2011

First Day of Spring

Podrán cortar todas las flores pero no acabarán con la primavera
--they can cut all the flowers but they won't do away with spring--

Lapachos in bloom
I wonder how long I'd have to live in the southern hemisphere for September to mean springtime to me. I do associate September with beginnings-- new school year, time for plans, goals, agendas, new projects. But there's also a sense of the year winding down, the days getting shorter, rain on the horizon and then in your shoes.

But here in Rosario, people are gearing up for spring. The last of the winter merchandise is heavily marked down. Changes in the bus schedule are announced. It seems the first day of spring is also a day off of school-- and, according to this morning's paper, the September 21 date is also a mistake, an inexact transfer by immigrants from the northern hemisphere, so that the spring equinox they were accustomed to (March 21) was transposed to September. What went wrong? The equinox is actually on the 22nd or 23rd in this hemisphere, varying slightly year to year.   

Seasons don't arrive on schedule anyway, whatever the calendar says, or ought to say. The weather has been cooperatively variable (read spring-like, in my seasonal experience): sunny but not too hot; then a full day of warmish, muggy rain; then cold, dusty wind under a gray sky, days I've worn sunglasses as safety goggles to protect against dust instead of glare. The grass in the parks looks worn, almost threadbare, reflecting a lack of rain. There are birds' eggs broken all over the sidewalks, and doves are trying to nest on my air-conditioner, or under it. And though I don't know if palm trees change at all from spring to fall--they always look the same to me--the lapachos are blooming. 

Lapachos apparently come in several colors, but so far I've only seen pink. The trees bloom before they leaf out, big, bundled, trumpety blossoms. They're here and there throughout the city, they line a couple of the downtown streets, preside over the park next to the maternity hospital a few blocks away. Sharing a cab with several new friends the other day, I asked the name of the pink flowering trees we passed, and the other women all agreed: seeing the lapachos in bloom was how they knew it was really spring.

View from Davis Silos (MACRO contemporary art museum)

The trees are beautiful. The sunshine today was delicious. Still, in my gut, it feels like fall. Something about taking the girl out of the season but not getting the season out of the girl. Maybe if I were here for a full round of seasons, it would feel different.


  1. Isn't it funny how a season feels like a season based on the month and familiarity, not what's around us? Here in Costa Rica all is green and lush, but I do keep wondering about the leaves turning in Ontario. ;-)

  2. Habit and expectation are powerful forces--as powerful as sun and wind? I hope I get to visit lush, green Costa Rica sometime, whatever the season!

  3. An update-- today was springlike, warm, sunny, perfect. The streets were full of young people (no school) streaming toward the river and back toward the center of town. It was windy by the river when I had late morning coffee with a colleague, so the brown water was choppy against the flow. Now, the sun down, it still feels warm, with that light cool of a summering wind. I may not be able to realign my own seasonal rhythms in one (relatively) short visit, but it's a treat to have a chance to try.

  4. The Seasons change when it pleases them. For years we lived near San Francisco, where there were no seasons, and then on the water on Cape Cod, where we dwelt in a peculiar little micro-climate that changed when you you drove four blocks inland. We spent the hot months on Nova Scotia, where we told ourselves that summer was a hundred days long. We are now in northern Vermont, in the valley of Lake Champlain, where we have different seasons whose cranky ways we must now mark and learn. This morning Nancy told me that the new flowers along the road were Michaelmas Daisies. I said I forgot when Michaelmas was and she said it was now. We once lived hip-deep in the natural world, but now, it seems, must go out of our way to notice it.

    I intended to be more responsive to what you wrote, but things suggested themselves as they do when we read interesting things.

  5. Thanks for sharing your changing seasons, too-- changing with the calendar, or the latitude, or the city block it seems. I've stood in the rain at the bus stop when I could have sworn that 100 yards down the street, the sidewalk was dry.